ERA Update: Only One More State

By Anahita Ghajarrahimi

In the recent Democratic Presidential Debate, multiple candidates brought up their support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the necessity for the amendment to finally be passed. Currently, the ERA only needs one more state to ratify it for the amendment to be able to move forward in the process of becoming official. 

Contra Costa NOW wishes to commend the recent mainstream attention given to the ERA and acknowledge the advocacy done by the candidates in order to spread awareness. Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment is a task NOW activists have been striving to accomplish for decades, and only with further public support will the amendment be ratified by the final necessary state. 

The Equal Rights Amendment will guarantee equal legal rights regardless of sex since these rights are not explicitly stated within the United States Constitution. The ERA would also be inclusive of different intersecting identities, like race and class. 

By guaranteeing those equal rights, this country takes a step in the right direction of being able to constitutionally prevent discrimination in job opportunities, equal pay, education, and health care. 

Do you wish to get more involved in helping the Equal Rights Amendment finally become a ratified amendment and included in the United States Constitution? Join Contra Costa NOW and take part in our efforts to promote the amendment’s ratification by following us on Facebook.

A Few Good Women

Volunteer with Contra Costa NOW

 

Contra Costa NOW is actively recruiting volunteers for several new initiatives. Open volunteer positions include:

Blog Contributors. Are you a writer? We are looking for unique, high-quality content from our chapter members to include in our new blog.

Political Action. Are you a researcher? Help us research and stay up to date with local, state, and national policies and initiatives. 

Protestors. Are you an activist? Gus Kramer’s next hearing is August 30th. We need members of our chapter to attend and spread the word.

Event Coordinators. Do you like to party? Help us coordinate and spread the word about upcoming events.

For more details about these opportunities visit our Jobs board on Facebook: facebook.com/contracostanow/jobs

Don’t see a position you’re interested in? Contact us at cococonow@gmail.com and tell us how you want to help

 

3 Million Could Lose Food Stamp Benefits Under Trump Administration Proposal

July 23, 2019

The Trump administration wants to change the way states determine who qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, also known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 3 million people would lose their food assistance as a result.

The administration says it wants to close what it calls a “loophole” that allows states to give benefits to those who would not otherwise be eligible by raising or eliminating income and asset limits. Forty states and Washington, D.C., now take advantage of this option and have done so for many years.

“This proposal will not only save money, but more importantly it preserves the integrity of the program while ensuring nutrition assistance programs serve those most in need,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in announcing the proposed rule, published in the Federal Register. His agency estimates the change would likely save $2.5 billion a year.

But proponents of the current system say it helps low-income families who work but have huge child care, housing and other expenses that leave them with insufficient money to buy food. States now have the flexibility to not cut off benefits as soon as a family’s gross income exceeds a certain level, but to more slowly phase out the food aid. The current program also automatically qualifies 265,000 schoolchildren for free lunches. Under the administration’s proposal, those children would have to apply separately to continue to get those meals.

“This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Stabenow noted that Congress refused to include the proposal in last year’s farm bill.

“This proposal is yet another attempt by this administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis,” she said.

The proposed rule change is one of several the administration has made or is considering that restricts safety net programs for low-income individuals and families.

For the full article click here.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal.  To comment click here.  Don’t know what to write?  Copy and paste this into the comments:  “I do not support the revision of categorical eligibility in SNAP. We need to expand SNAP, not restrict it.”

Contra Costa NOW Members at the National Conference

Jeanette and Erika attend the NOW National Conference

Immigration: An Issue of Intersectional Feminism

By Anahita Ghajarrahimi

The current administration criminalizes undocumented immigrants to the point that children immigrating with their parents are separated from their families at the border and imprisoned in detention centers whose conditions are comparable to concentration camps. In addition, within the past week there have been more threats of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in cities across the nation. (1)

Immigration must be regarded as a feminist issue because there is an inherent gender bias in the overall immigration system. Women are less-likely to be principal visa holders, even if they have similar levels of education to men. Within the family-based visa program, the gender bias persists since more women than men immigrate into the United States as dependents within this program, and there is significant delay in granting these family-based visas, which keeps families apart longer. (2, 5) Thus, immigration and motherhood can be seen as inherently connected, since women are typically grouped with children as dependents of their spouses. However, this becomes more complicated for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families, since the permanent resident in that relationship cannot sponsor their spouse or child to come to the United States. (3) 

When turning to the cases of undocumented immigrants or those seeking asylum in the United States, the current crisis at the border involves the violent separation of children from their parents. Family separation will have lasting traumatic impact on the migrant children, who are held at detention centers at the border while their parents are prosecuted. 

Contra Costa NOW stands as an ally to immigrants and undocumented persons within our community by supporting leglislation that will protect their rights and spreading information about paths to gaining citizenship. Specifically, we aim to boost the immigrant voices and spread awareness regarding the disproportionate sufferings and atrocities immigrant women face due to the unique intersections between political, economic, labor, and social circles. (4)

The local resource, Stand Together Contra Costa, provides a rapid response 24-hotline, legal services, and community awareness and educational programs in order to properly and effectively support and ensure the protection of the undocumented and immigrant families within Contra Costa. 

As a part of NOW’s Action Campaign to promote immigrant rights, contact your senators about passing the Clean DREAM Act to help give immigrant youths and young adults who came to the United States when they were children a pathway to citizenship. After contacting your senators, donate to NOW here to better fund further campaigns that champion and support immigrant rights. (6)

 

 

Sources:

  1. Alvarez, Priscilla, and Geneva Sands. “ICE Set to Begin Immigration Raids in 10 Cities on Sunday.” CNN, Cable News Network, 22 June 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/06/21/politics/ice-immigration-raids/index.html.
  2. Facts about: Family Immigration System AND Asian & Pacific Islander Women. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. https://nciwr.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/napawf_familyimmigration_factsheet-3.pdf
  3. “National Organization for Women.” Immigration as a Feminist Issue, now.org/resource/immigration-as-a-feminist-issue/.
  4. “Protect Immigrant Rights.” National Organization for Women, now.org/nap/immigrant-rights/.
  5. Valoy, Patricia. “Why Immigration Is a Feminist Issue.” Everyday Feminism, 2 Oct. 2014, everydayfeminism.com/2013/12/immigration-feminist-issue/.
  6. “What Is the Dream Act?” National Immigration Law Center, www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Clean-Dream-Act-1pg-2017.pdf.

 

Abortion Bans Don’t Work. Here’s Why.

By Anahita Ghajarrahimi

Abortion bans do not prevent the one thing they are supposed to: abortion. Instead, they restrict women from making decisions about their health. By banning abortion, women lose legal access to safe and effective abortions, which in turn threatens their health – the opposite of protecting life.

Contra Costa NOW believes that restricting access to abortion threatens women’s self-autonomy and ability to make decisions about their own bodies. State-level restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect groups like low income women and women of color; the intersections of oppression in these demographic groups build on one another, making access to legal and safe abortions much more difficult (3). 

Brief historical background of Abortion Rights

Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that declared abortion as constitutional right, affirmed that women have the right to privacy and that the state cannot interfere with a decision between a doctor and woman (2). However, through the 1992 Supreme Court decision on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, states could restrict and define how much of access women have to abortion, as long as there is no “undue burden” on the woman; the effects of this decision are increasingly seen today.

 

Current situation in state-level legislative policy on abortion

Most states allow abortions until 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, but recently several states have passed early abortion bans that vary in their limitations on when a woman can get an abortion (1). The most extreme case is Alabama; abortion is only allowed if the woman’s health is at risk, with no exception for rape or incest. Other cases include Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia, who recently passed laws that ban abortion after 6-8 weeks, and Utah and Arkansas, banning abortion after 18 weeks. Contra Costa NOW deeply condemns these states who have severely restricted women’s access to safe and legal abortions. 

 

Communities of color are more at risk

Race and socioeconomic status disproportionately affect women’s ability to get an abortion because abortion access stems from greater access to healthcare. Women of color and low income women are among demographic groups that are under significant attack from restrictions on abortion; the Hyde Amendment of 1976 bans those who receive federally-funded health insurance, including Indian Health Services and Medicaid, from using their benefits for abortion costs – only cases of direct risk to women’s health and pregnancy due to rape and incest are allowed. The Hyde Amendment also unfairly affects women of color because of the systematic links between income inequality, racism, and sexism; for instance, 30% of Black women and 24% of Hispanic women are enrolled in Medicaid as opposed to 14% of white women (4). Thus, women of color, who are more enrolled in Medicaid than white women, face greater challenges in obtaining access to abortions. The current early abortion bans only increase the difficulty for these communities because the greater time restraints on when a women can legally get an abortion build on already-existing challenges of healthcare access (6).

 

What can we do to help? 

In California, women have the choice to obtain an abortion up until fetal viability (usually 24 weeks), and post-viability abortions are still performed if the mother’s health, life, or overall well-being is at risk (5). However, other states do not offer the same reproductive rights. Speaking out against bans and uplifting those sharing their stories with abortion helps remove the stigma around the procedure. Donating directly to local, grassroots organizations is a monetary way to help out these states affected by the ban.

  1. The Yellowhammer Fund – Alabama
  2. SisterSong – Georgia
  3. Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund – Mississippi
  4. Gateway Women’s Access Fund – Missouri
  5. Preterm – Ohio
  6. Access Reproductive Care – Southeast

 

Planned Parenthood has begun the #BansOffMyBody campaign in order to gather support across the country to fight back against the recent bans. They plan on attacking these bans both in the courts and the streets. Planned Parenthood Northern California’s Director of Public Affairs, Lauren Babb, states that the organization “will always be there for our patients. We will fight to ensure that patients – and everyone in this country – can still access health care, no matter what.”

 

Contra Costa NOW champions those voicing their support for access to safe and legal abortions, especially for community members who face more challenges gaining healthcare access due to racial or socioeconomic status. Here are more ways to fight back against the abortion bans: 

  1. Go to https://www.istandwithpp.org/call/house-nobans to call your U.S. representative and ask them to co-sponsor a resolution in support of protecting access to reproductive health care. 
  2. Donate to The National Organization for Women to help us in the fight for greater reproductive justice.
  3. Take action via one of our mobilization campaigns here

 

Sources:

Gordon, Mara, and Alyson Hurt. “Early Abortion Bans: Which States Have Passed Them?” NPR, NPR, 5 June 2019, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/06/05/729753903/early-abortion-bans-which-states-have-passed-them.

“History of Abortion.” National Abortion Federation, prochoice.org/education-and-advocacy/about-abortion/history-of-abortion/.

“Mobilize for Reproductive Justice.” National Organization for Women, now.org/nap/reproductive-justice/.

“Hyde Amendment.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund, www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/hyde-amendment.

Rodriguez, Ambrosio. “Understanding Abortion Laws in California.” The Rodriguez Law Group, 4 June 2018, www.aerlawgroup.com/understanding-abortion-laws-in-california/.

“The Hyde Amendment.” National Network of Abortion Funds, 13 Jan. 2017, abortionfunds.org/hyde/.

County Assessor Gus Kramer

County Assessor Gus Kramer has repeatedly displayed aggressive and inappropriate behavior towards his female colleagues. He has been formally accused of violating the Fair Housing and Employment Act and of creating a hostile work environment. We call on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to remove Kramer from office. Our Political Action Team will be closely monitoring the progress of the legal proceedings against Kramer and the Board of Supervisors’ response. Support our actions and write to the BOS today. Click here to download a copy to send to the CoCoCounty BOS.

Contra Costa NOW 2019 Garden Party — Member Awards

 

 

 

 

Founding member Sally Johnson (left) and Lesley Hunt, 40 year member were honored at the June 8, 2019 Garden Party.

NOW Celebrates Pride Month, Honors Stonewall Anniversary

NOW Celebrates Pride Month, Honors Stonewall Anniversary

WASHINGTON D.C. — This Pride Month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 June Stonewall Uprising in New York City. Three nights of resistance at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village ignited the modern LGBTQIA+ movement.

Stonewall patrons and their supporters rose up in protest of an early-morning law enforcement raid at the bar, taking to the streets and chanting “gay power.” Out of oppressive police action, a mass movement was born. In protest against injustice, a new civil rights movement was energized.

NOW recognizes the vital contributions of the transgender community in igniting and propelling this movement forward. We celebrate activist heroes, like Marsha P. Johnson, who was present at the Stonewall Uprising and went on to establish Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which provides help to homeless LGBTQIA+ youth.

Here at NOW, our resistance is intersectional. We strive to overcome discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in all areas. We march, we organize, we take action, and we push for meaningful social change alongside the LGBTQIA+ community.

This mission is more important than ever as NOW stands up to the Trump administration’s discriminatory agenda and attacks on LGBTQIA+ rights. Among other initiatives, we are working tirelessly to pass the Equality Act to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity receive the full force of protection under our laws and in the workplace.

NOW celebrates Pride Month this June with continued participation in this vital movement that began on the streets of Greenwich Village 50 years ago.

Letter to the Editor in the East Bay Times — Rebuttal by Contra Costa NOW President Katia Senff

From Katia:  “I was appalled by a recent Letter to the Editor published in the East Bay Times (shown below in red) condemning The City of Walnut Creek’s decision to raise the Pride Flag this June.  I have submitted a response.”

Response:

East Bay Times Letter to the Editor
May 22, 2019

Bigotry is a Not a Family Value

RE: Letter: Walnut Creek is known for family values — how could it do this? It’s disgusting and appalling that the city of Walnut Creek would adopt such a standard.

Bigotry is Not a Family Value.

The National Organization for Women stands with The City of Walnut Creek’s decision to raise the Pride Flag this June.

Based on letters, like the one from our neighbor Dane, it is clear that bigotry still exists in our community. Our city leaders are obligated to take a stance against such prejudice.

We believe in a community that supports people of all kinds, colors, and creeds, including our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We must continue to speak out against intolerance.

We stand with Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, and all cities in Contra Costa County who are openly supporting the LGBTQ community this June. Thank you for showing our citizens that we are greater than hate and that fear-base rhetoric has no place in our communities.

Katia Senff
President, Contra Costa National Organization for Women
Contracostanow.org

 

Original Letter to the Editor Published 5/22/19

Walnut Creek is know for family values, not this

Re: “‘A long time coming’:  Walnut Creek council signals support for LGBTQ prie month, flag” (East bay times.com, May8):

It’s disgusting and appalling that the city of Walnut Creed, which is well-known as a family community, would adopt such a standard.

Advocating what I consider to be immoral, lewd and disgusting behavior does not come down the family values of Walnut Creek.

If I want to see things like that I’ll go to San Francisco.  I expected more from them.

— Dane Hansen, Concord

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